Friday, April 29, 2011

Things I like 2

A couple of cute tutorials I've recently come across:

Scallop-edged reversible skirt by Megan Nielson:
I've been a sucker for scallop edges for a while now, although I haven't managed to sew anything with scallops yet. This cute project might just as well change that...

Crochet Collar pattern by The Ongoing Project: I've hat a bit of a look around for crocheted lace collars and yokes, and look at this beautiful one! The color!

T-shirt to wrap-dress refashion by Tenth Muse Studios: Wrap dresses are awesome, and all one needs for this one are two oversized T-shirts. It looks so cute and comfy!

Have a lovely May Day weekend, everyone!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

A cat in the hat

Oh look, a new blog design! I thought with summer almost here, I could use a bit of a cooler background. And polka dots! :) Also: 4th post within a week - hell must have frozen over, I've never been this prolific a writer before! Ah well, I'm sure we'll be back to two posts a month in a thrice... ;)

While I don't have any new me-mades as of yet (not even me-made paper mache me), I thought I'd do an outfit post for a change. After admiring tops and dresses with a crocheted lace yoke for a while (Jessica has some really cute ones, and there was the blue dress from a few weeks ago) I bought a new cardi yesterday. Isn't the color lovely? I usually don't do orange well, but this shade (salmon? coral? lox?) seems to work nicely.

(Sorry for the cellphone pic and huge head...) The cardi is RTW, from H&M. They have been my go-to store for all kinds of garments for years, although I've scaled back considerably since I've started sewing. Back when I was in high school, a good 90% of my wardrobe must have been H&M. Now, it's maybe a third (of my active wardrobe), with another third of me-mades and a third miscellanous like Esprit, Vero Moda and S.Oliver.

I've been a bit more socially and environmentally conscious since coming to the blogging world, so I do think about where my clothes come from, at least occasionally. I like that H&M has a non-child-labor policy, even paying for underage workers going back to school, and that they work with UNICEF (although some of that is surely for publicity reasons). I also like that they hopped onto the organic cotton bandwagon as early as 2004, and I just read that currently, about a third of the cotton they use is organic, with the aim at making it 50% by 2013. They still use sweatshop labor, of course, but all things considered, they seem to be one of the more socially conscious corporations out there. And I'm glad, because I consistently find garments there that I like, stlye, color and fiber-wise...

Sooo... guess what I also found at H&M yesterday, and had to buy because if this week's Sew Weekly challenge?

A hat!

A blue straw hat with a pin dot ribbon, to be exact.

I think a blue organza flower would make it even more pretty, but this red one works nicely, too...

I don't think I'll manage to make a matching outfit before the end of the week, even though my last Spring Palette garment would be a fitting choice. Ah well, we'll see.

I'll leave you with my newest favorite accessory, a necklace I refashioned for myself and my sister from a pair of earrings I bought in Wellington, NZ:

Monday, April 25, 2011

Easter Weekend

Hi everybody! I hope you had a nice and relaxing Easter weekend! Living in Germany, I was lucky enough to have an extra long weekend (Friday and Monday are both bank holidays) and due to the wonderful weather, my me-mades got a pretty good work-out. I wore the cherry blossom skirt on Friday and Saturday and the Elvis skirt for a field trip to a former US espionage station on Sunday.

Since I haven't started on a lighter petticoat yet, I wore a black skirt underneath (same one I wore for the costume party during MMMar'11) and paired it with black leggins and flats. I was very pleased with the rock'n'roll-y look. :)

Today I had some friends over for brunch (which ended up lasting until 7pm and I'm still plenty full...) and I decided to wear my polka-dot Crepe. I got lots of compliments for it and also two I-don't-know-how-serious requests for dresses from two of my friends. (I didn't totally appreciate the "I saw this cute dress but it cost 40 bucks, could you sew it for less?" but the other friend was a little more sensitive and both have birthdays coming up, so we might come to an arrangement... ;) I exchanged the slightly-restricting-around-the-sleeves Crepe for last year's polka dot jersey skirt in the afternoon, since we were lounging around on cushions on the floor, so that's 4 me-mades worn in 4 days. :)

I got some sewing done on Friday and Saturday, so now my navy pair of trousers only wants a (yet to be drafted) waistband, some buttons and a hemming. It might be the linen, which has a bit of a give to it, but they turned out to fit pretty decently! We'll see if the waistband changes any of that...

I also started drafting my last Spring Palette item, the navy polka-dot dress with the white yoke. I'm not quite sure how it'll turn out, but I used my only custom-fitted bodice pattern as a base - the Crepe bodice. Well, the front part, anyway. Not quite sure how I'll tackle the back bodice.

Maybe I'll use my soon-to-be-finished paper-mache-me! My friend came over for putting me in a cast on Saturday (and even ran over to the apothecary/pharmacy to get a couple additional plaster bandages when we ran out), so now I'll only have to make some paper mache, fill the cast form, and put the pieces together...

So did you have any adventures over the weekend, sewing or otherwise? Have a wonderful week!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Lace in all colors

Lace seems to be the fabric of the season. There a cute lace dresses popping up everywhere! Starting with Gertie's fabulous red number at the beginning of the year, and Sarai's more recent eyelet dress, to Peter's Lace-over-taffeta dress for his identical cousin Cathy and Idle Fancy's newest sewing plans, lace seems to be everywhere!

I'm especially in love with these colorful creations by Brazilian designer Daniella Helayel of the London-based fashion label Issa:

Such awesome colors, and look at those cute bodice options! I may have to think about making a lace dress, too, this year...

Thursday, April 21, 2011

the week of finishing things

Hi everybody! Happy almost-Easter!
I've actually been productive for the past week, possibly because the weather has turned into an almost-summery, sunny spring full of flowers, which makes me really happy. I've been wearing summery dresses and skirts, even without tights in the past couple of days! Also, Uni has started again and I've taken my bike out of the basement and am biking to class almost every day, which also makes me happy. Have I mentioned that late spring / early summer are my favorite seasons? :)

I do mean that I've been productive sewing-wise, too. I mended the tear in the armhole on my Crêpe dress and found out that the one on the other side also showed some wear and tear. The tears coincide with my (rather deep) notches, so I guess the problem is partly my prone-to-tearing cotton fabric and partly my deep notching. I've repaired both sides with a double row of stitching and the tear with a little dart that's almost invisible. I guess for next time I know to reinforce my armholes with a bit of sturdier interfacing, too, and not just the facings...

I also finished the hem of a circle skirt I started in the week before I went to Hamburg. It's made from the Elvis fabric I bought while visiting my friend in Kentucky and I like the summery green almost-polka-dot print. :) It's a true circle skirt, made without any side seams, and the fabric is a bit stiff, which means it drapes kind of strangely.

I think a petticoat will take care of the problem, but the one I have (my very first self-stitched garment) is a bit too huge and heavy for it (I used a rather dense petticoat-tulle and it weighs over 600g!). I've been meaning to disassemble it to make a couple of new ones, maybe with the addition of a more light-weight tulle. The construction is kind of strange, anyway, because I followed a tutorial to make it layered instead of just gathered. The lowest tier has 6 layers, the middle one 3 and the top one 1 layer...

Finished item no. 3 is a refashioned skirt that my friend brought over for me a couple of weeks ago, because she didn't like the style anymore. The hem and side seams were already overlocked and look pretty much RTW but the waistband was just folded over twice and held in place with pins. She didn't mention what it used to be, but I guess it's the bottom part of a little jersey dress...? Anyway, I stitched the waistband in place with a zigzag stitch and inserted a 1/2 inch elastic. I really like the skirt, the print reminds me of cherry blossoms and it works well for cycling. I'm glad the pink doesn't clash with my coral top too much, because it may be the only matching top I have save for black ones...

Right now I'm finally working on my self-drafted sailor trousers again - yes, the navy linen ones that I think first appeared on my Summer Essential Sew-along list last year! I've decided on finishing them for my Spring Palette and aside from some problems with the pockets (which occured because I wasn't thinking, yay me) and the little point that I didn't think about how I wanted to close them and so forgot to add a placket for buttons or a zipper, they're coming along nicely. Just one sideseam and a button placket and a waistband to add!

(They won't work as a wearable muslin, though, because I smartly already finished every seam using French seams... Ah well, they may stay slightly ill-fitting, I'm not ripping any more seams on that pair of trousers!)

I'll leave you with some actual cherry blossoms, photographed during my week-end in Hamburg. Have a wonderful week-end everyone, and happy Easter (or Passover, as it may be) holidays!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

plans & sketches

There hasn't been much sewing going on here, lately. Possibly because we rearranged our living room for a workshop a couple of weeks ago, and now I have to carry my sewing machine about 4m to put it onto the dining table. Yes, I am that lazy. Then again, BF and I spent a long weekend in Hamburg with my sister and her boyfriend, to see the Lion King musical, and classes started again yesterday, so maybe I have an excuse.

I have spent some time on planning my summer sewing, though, and sketching out the projects I had in mind for the fabrics I have accumulated on my world trip. I realize that I haven't even finished my Spring Palette sewing (it's not the sewing, it's the pattern drafting and muslining I'm dreading...) but my creative mind doesn't seem too impressed by that. Not even by the fact that I don't have patterns for any of the garments I sketched out, and that I'm planning to (mostly) draft those, too - at least if I don't cave in at some point and go browse BurdaStyle...

I think the no-chafe hidden-shorts-underskirt/petticoat is a pretty genius idea, if I say so myself... ;)

Fact is, I've been craving fitting slopers/basic patterns ever since I've started sewing, and I'm pretty sure I could draft pretty much anything I could think up if I just had the basics. In my head it all sounds very easy... not sure if that's all just in my head, though. I may not have enough knowledge about garment construction to pull it off. I have been thinking about taking a sewing class, too. Maybe on drafting and sewing a dress... Ah well.

I think I will ask one of my friends to help me make a body double this weekend. I'd like to make it from paper mache (more stable than duct tape) and I already bought plaster bandages and wallpaper glue. They have actually been sitting amidst my craft things since last year... The very first dress I tried to make, I first tried to draft the pattern by draping newspaper paper around my body. It didn't work, but it might if I use a body double and muslin...

So, any thoughts on self-drafting patterns, draping or body doubles? Have you ever made any of the above? Did it work out?

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Dear Diary...

Dear Diary,

I've been a bit of a bad girl today. After a lovely day featuring a workshop on web-developement by my boyfriend and a walk through the park (wearing a short-sleeved red dress! spring!), my BFF asked me to go shopping with her to pick out some office appropriate shoes and clothes and shoes for her sister's wedding. Since I haven't spent enough time with her in the last few weeks - she's working on her bachelor's thesis - I thought that was a fabulous idea and I was pretty sure that I could stick to my resolutions of not buying stuff. I don't really need any clothes right now and my thought was that if I saw something pretty, I could always use it as an inspiration to sew.

Well, I totally forgot that shoes might be a bigger vice for me than clothes. I tried to be really good and didn't buy the first four really cute pairs that I liked. Even though they were really cute. Look at those sandals with the fabulous cuffs!

The other ones I didn't buy were cute canvas wedge sandals with a little bow in front. My friend picked up the navy pair and I fell in love with the white ones. They looked lovely with the red dress I was wearing and were exactly the slightly vintage-looking style I'd been looking for for ages... Since I have been unable to find the exact pair on the web, I think I may have to go back tomorrow and buy them, anyway... They looked slightly like these and were only 25€...

The pair I did buy in the end - and I had to call my mother to talk me into doing rationalise it - was a pair of ridiculously comfy brown leather peep-toes. They were, of course, the most expensive of the lot, but 30% reduced for sale and I think the price (40€) was pretty good. They probably look good with almost everything, and I don't own a brown pair of shoes yet... ;)

After hunting for shoes for about two hours, we also entered a clothing store and my friend found a lovely coral sheath dress and matching striped blouse. Sadly, the color was a bit too pastel for my complexion but I saw two navy dresses that I might attempt to sew (or at least put into my inspiration folder for now). Following: crappy cellphone changing room pics, yay! ;)

Exhibit one: an airy navy linen dress with ruffle sleeves, a bow in the back and the cutest lace detail at the neckline. I wonder if one can just buy lace neckline details and if yes, where...?

Exhibit two: Empire waist sheath dress (hmm, is that a valid combination?) with cute pleats at the neckline and white waistline stitching details. (The waist was ridiculously narrow, though, and the box-pleated, almost tulip-y skirt made me look 6 months pregnant. Bleurgh.)

Also, I'm dreaming of making a jersey dress similar to the red one I thrifted in NZ, which I've been wearing today.
I especially love the fit of the skirt, which is a half-circle skirt starting at the waistline, I think. I'd want a round neckline and a straight waistband instead of the vaguely triangular one, though. And maybe little raglan cap-sleeves instead of the ruffled two-part ones. Also, I wonder if I can just self-line the bodice, enclosing all seam allowances, and make one of those almost-a-bra-elastic thingies... What do you think, do I need a pattern? Could I just franken-pattern it from existing garments I have? Questions upon questions... And I'd need to use a serger...

Friday, April 1, 2011

The Rest of Me Made March

Me-Made March 2011 is over. I must say, it has been fun! Even though I wasn't quite enthousiastic in the beginning of the month, the vacation in Portugal and the arrival of spring afterwards have turned it around for me. I even got to wear my Crepe again this week! :)

Looking over my outfits throughout the month, I think I'm happy with most of them. Even though I've worn a few of them more than once, I haven't felt bored with my outfits (much), so I guess that's a success.

Breaking down which items have been worn how often is interesting. The most worn (and least seen) item is definitely my black lacy tank, worn almost every day, and I think I may need another couple of those, maybe in different colors.

The second most worn item - 7 times! - is my refashioned/shortened red skirt, which is funny because I bought that skirt maybe 5 years ago and haven't worn it more than a handful of times every year. A very successful refashion, I think, even though I only shortened and re-hemmed it... Also very successful were my two box-pleat skirts, Strawberry and PolkaDots with 4 wearings each (funny, feels like more...). I really love them and they will be a spring/summer staple, I think.

Oh look, a diagramm of how often I've worn my me-made garments this month! ;D

The colors are pretty ugly... ;)

I think I have learned something this month. I have thought about the possibility of trying to do go without RTW garments the next time this challenge rolls around. You know, *challenging* myself and all. But, I already have a pretty big wardrobe of RTW garments, some of which I really love. I own, for example, 4 denim skirts (two of which, admittedly, I need to shorten and maybe do some more refashioning with). I think it would be rather silly and wasteful to sew another one instead of wearing the ones I already have, and the same goes for quite a few other garment types (although I think it may not be possible to own too many cute skirts and sundresses. Not at my rate of sewing, at least... ;)

So... I think there may be a bit more sewing of fun pieces like the aforementioned skirts and dresses, interspersed with some basics (to replace any of my RTW basics or garments that wear out).

On with the show then:

Day 26: refashioned red skirt and brand new refashioned cardi (which used to be a pullover)

No pics for Days 27 and 28. I came down with a bit of a bug and never left the house, I did wear grandma-knit socks and the black longsleeve, though.

Day 29: red skirt, unseen black tank. Does it get a bit repetitive?

Day 30: Yay! Sun! Warmth! A stroll in the park! And lovely Crêpe. :)

Last day of March and I almost forgot to take a picture... ;) Strawberry skirt and lacy black tank.